International Day of Sign Language – A list of movies with deaf characters

  • सितम्बर 23, 2021

Today, September 23, the world will observe the annual celebration of the International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL). The day focuses on people who are deaf or hard of hearing and people with speech disorders. 

If you’re interested in learning sign language, movies are an excellent way to start. When people with hearing/speech impairments see themselves represented on screen, it can boost their self-confidence and self-esteem. The world of cinema has not always been very inclusive but as we try to bridge the gap, we must also be more aware and inclusive ourselves. Viewing films with characters who experience hearing loss can also help hearing-impaired people gain compassion, understanding, and inclusion.

To help you get started, we’ve assembled a list of the best movies that feature characters with hearing loss who communicate using sign languages. Hopefully, these films will motivate you to learn Indian Sign Language.

The Silent Child

The story of the Silent Child revolves around a 4-year-old hearing-impaired girl named Libby who was born into a hearing family with little exposure to Deaf culture. After living in silence for many years, Libby discovers a new way of communicating when she bonds with a social worker who teaches her sign language. 20 minutes short, but an incredibly compelling and affecting true story that sheds light on deafness and sign language. The film shows that with the right support, a hearing-impaired person can achieve a successful life just like anyone else.


Ankahi, one of the 4 short films which is a part of the  Ajeeb Dastaans anthology, features actors Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul as lovers who use sign language to communicate. The film tells the story of Natasha, a woman dealing with her husband’s cold behavior and her daughter’s hearing loss, and how she seeks solace in hearing-impaired photographer Kabir. The storyline gradually evolves into a story of forbidden love, shaped by lies and loneliness. Many aspects of nonverbal communication are explored in the film through the way the characters look at each other. Learning sign language is a challenging, yet beautiful experience.

A Quiet Place (1st and 2nd)

A Quiet Place is a horror film that showcases a family forced to hide from monsters of ultrasensitive hearing in a post-apocalyptic world. Throughout the film, American Sign Language serves as a means of communication as well as the main form of communication between family members and is proving more vital than ever. The director specifically cast Millicent for the movie because of her real deafness and his desire to portray a realistic portrayal. It makes you reflect on all the senseless noise around us. If you want to experience Quiet Place for yourself, please don’t bring any noisy snacks with you.


The story of Wonderstruck revolves around two hearing-impaired children, Rose and Ben, who secretly wish that their lives had been different. It showcases deaf talent and examines deafness through different eras of history. In the case of Wonderstruck, the language of the movie seemed like a wonderful way to unite hearing and non-hearing audiences.  It aims to give voice to all the silent children in the world and to get sign language recognized in schools.

Movies can help gather attention to topics that really matter. Creating a more inclusive environment on much bigger platforms and starting conversations is important. You could start your Sign language journey from home. Yet, practicing with others is the best way to master it. Alternatively, you can try multiple sign language apps to find one that works for you or watch YouTube videos from certified instructors.

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